Store allegedly retailiated following sexual harassment claims
In a previous post we wrote about the prevalence of sexual harassment in restaurant settings. This is not the only service type job where workers are subjected to sexual harassment. As it turns out, retail settings are also common locations for the activity. In 2011, more than 11,000 charges were filed against employers with the Fair Employment Practices and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission agencies. Since 70 percent of those who face this behavior do not report it, in reality, the number of people dealing with this is probably much higher.
There are a variety of activities that could constitute sexual harassment in the workplace. Often those activities are committed by fellow coworkers. There are occasions however where a workplace might be held accountable even when it is a third party accused of the behavior. This is illustrated in the lawsuit recently filed by a woman who used to work at Urban Outfitters located in New York City.
While working at the store the woman said she experienced several incidents of sexual harassment, not from fellow employees, but rather store patrons.
In the first incident a customer allegedly filmed up the woman’s skirt with a video camera as she walked up steps located in the store. That individual was stopped by the store’s security guards but he was allowed to leave the premises and the woman was not provided the information necessary to take legal action against him. She claims that one of the guards mocked her when she sought that information.
Another incident involved a different male customer who attempted to pull down her dress to expose her chest after first licking her cheek and grabbing her lip because he said he wanted to see her teeth. When she ran away, that man too was removed from the store by security guards.
In neither situation did the store’s security guards contact the police.
After the woman complained to her superiors she was assigned to work in the back room. She indicated that she believed that action was in retaliation for reporting the incidents of sexual assault and sexual harassment. Not long after that change she quit the job.
In addition to quitting her job she also filed a lawsuit against Urban Outfitters. She is seeking unspecified monetary damages for retaliation and sexual harassment. Such behavior in the workplace is not legal and if the woman prevails in her case she will likely receive financial compensation.
Source: Think Progress, “Former Urban Outfitters Employee Accuses Store Of Ignoring Sexual Harassment From Customers,” Bryce Covert, Aug. 13, 2014